The most gratifying aspect of Louisville's 31-28 win at Florida State -- other than the W of course -- is that the Cardinals showed they are intent on not allowing the season get away from them.
We see it every season across the land. Teams with aspirations which have gone unrequited stop grinding, and their seasons totally fall apart.
(It happened at U of L under The Schnell in '91, the season after the Fiesta Bowl takedown of 'Bama. After starting 2-2, the Ls to Tennessee and Ohio State, U of L was bashed at Cincy and never recovered, losing out, every defeat by three TDs or more and finishing off with a 0-40 collapse at Tulsa. I'm just referencing that season as an example of what can happen, not to compare this year's situation or team to that one.)
After Louisville's desultory performance last week in the L to BC, especially bad on the defensive side, many feared a meltdown was a distinct possibility for the remainder of this campaign.
But, perspective is always in order.
For one, though last week's loss was certainly unacceptable, Boston College has apparently turned a corner. Yesterday, the Eagles went into Charlottesville, and manhandled previously 5-1 UVa, 41-10.
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So intense is my focus on the Cardinals that, as much as I try to follow what's going on elsewhere, the woes of our foes don't fully resonate.
Given how the Cards embarrassed the Seminoles last season on Game Day, I was fearful this year's payback in Tallahassee could get U.G.L.Y. early. I was forgetting how decimated Jimbo's squad is, playing with a real freshman beanpole at QB, easily the skinniest person ever to play that position for a Power 5 school, a kid wasn't even listed on the depth chart when practice started. Plus they have 2d and 3d teamers in a lot of slots on both sides of the ball.
I was stunned, frankly, at the glaring lack of revenge motivation from the Noles.
The victory by the Cardinals is obviously a sweet one, heartening, encouraging, invigorating. But, let's be real, this was still a game between two flawed, relatively mediocre squads.
That the one which was able to summon up three points more resolve at crunch time was the Louisville Cardinals is a good thing.
Both QBs fumbled. With the score knotted, LJ gave up the ball and a score, giving Florida State a 14-7 lead early. But the Cardinals and Lamar persevered.
When FSU signal caller James Blackman coughed it up with 2:05 left to play at the Louisville 24, it proved fatal.
Even though no Two Minute Drill was apparent, clock management seemed not a consideration and U of L's O looked somewhat in disarray with a late false start, the Cards pushed down the field and steady Blanton Creque closed the deal.
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Speaking of that False Start penalty, it was Louisville's second of the day. Not second False Start, second penalty in toto. 2 breaches of the rules for 13 yards. How long has it been since U of L was that focused for an entire game?
Louisville survived two negative plays that could have been turning points but thankfully weren't. The Roughing the Passer call on James Hearns -- U of L's first penalty of the game came with 13:29 in the 4th -- and with less than five minutes to play, handing the ball to Reggie Bonnafon on a 4th and 1 inside the State 30. For no gain.
Louisville ran the ball twice as many times as LJ put it in the air. To winning effect. Bobby Petrino obviously had a game plan.
The OL which had perhaps its best game of the season. There were holes. And, there were times when Jackson could stand still in one spot untouched in the pocket, looking downfield for receivers.
The defense displayed a modicum of improvement. They still tackled high, and allowed too many yards after they got their hands on the guy with the ball. The secondary looked confused at times, leaving receivers wide open. But they did garner a couple timely sacks. Trumaine Washington grabbed two picks, the second of which was a truly great play.
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It's sad watching Lee Corso on Game Day. I love the guy, but it really is time for him to retire.
Lots of empty seats in Doak Campbell Stadium.
Rod Gilmore called that cooling cap Lamar wears when off the field a "therminator." Whether that's really what it's called or not, I love the designation.
Next Week: Wake Forest in Winston Salem. Hopefully the Cards will prevail without Demon Deacon play sheets to peruse during preparation.
-- Seedy K